WRKF

District Judge Resigns Over Use Of Racist Slur And Affair With Parish Chief Deputy

Feb 27, 2020

Judge Jessie LeBlanc of the 23rd Judicial District announced her resignation Thursday after a groundswell of public criticism over her admitted use of a racist slur and participation in an extramarital affair with a top law enforcement official in her district.

LeBlanc, who is white, tendered her resignation with immediate effect in letters to the Secretary of State and the state Supreme Court. In those letters she expressed regret for using slurs in referring to two black public employees in series text messages she sent to former Assumption Parish Chief Deputy Bruce Prejean after the end of their relationship.

Prejean was demoted after admitting to the relationship last month.

LeBlanc's use of the slur in text messages uncovered during the investigation into the affair.

In an interview with WAFB on Sunday, LeBlanc confirmed that she had used the slur, prompting the Baton Rouge NAACP, the Legislative Black Caucus and Gov. John Bel Edwards to demand her resignation.

LeBlanc initially said she had no intention of resigning and that she planned to run for reelection this fall. Four days later, she reversed course.

“While I am not excusing my behavior in using a racially inappropriate word, I have and will continue to apologize for it,” LeBlanc wrote in her resignation letter.

“My use of the word was out of fear and anger and, although inexcusable, is certainly not reflective of my character, my performance on the Bench, or, frankly, who I am.”

The outgoing judge struck a defiant tone, alleging that three of her colleagues knew about her relationship with Prejean and of other extramarital relationships the former chief deputy had with court employees.

She said her actions and her language were inexcusable, but as a female judge, she was being held to a higher standard of conduct than her male peers.

“I only hope, going forward, that all public officials will be treated equally and if this is the standard set, then it must be meted out for all,” LeBlanc wrote.

She further alleged that the District Attorney and Assumption Parish Sheriff held a grudge from her handling of a sexual assault case over which she presided. She also wrote that she "targeted by anonymous phone calls, a vile, threatening note placed on my office door, and a 'delivery' of a wrapped 'Christmas' present containing Mr. Prejean's phone records highlighting his extensive, ongoing contacts with the Law Clerk."

When news of the affair emerged, 23rd JDC District Attorney Ricky Babin and Chief Public Defender Alan Robert requested LeBlanc recuse herself from all criminal cases.

Hundreds of LeBlanc’s cases are under review.

You can read the full letter of resignation here.